02 March 2014

Sock It To Me part one: gauge & your cuff

Hello friends. Are you ready? I'm ready. I'm very excited. Now, we're not doing anything too fancy here, just a simple cuff-down sock with a heel flap and gusset. We'll only do one sock at a time, and you won't have to worry about grafting the toe with the Kitchener stitch until the end of the sock. So just relax, take a deep breath, and let's start.

How is this supposed to work? Quite simply, really. Each Sunday I'll post the next part of the pattern we're using for our socks, with some pictures and some tips. Now, even though the pattern was listed as "intermediate" on the label where I found it, it's also classified as "easy" on the website of the yarn company. The exact same pattern, two different ratings. The only reason I think they did that is they posted the pattern with the option to close the toe like you would the top of a hat (drawing the remaining yarn through the remaining stitches) and marked that one easy. To that I say, "That's fucking stupid. If you're going to make a damn sock, make a good sock worth wearing."

Ahem. So for those of you following along at home, I'll be posting each week's step here. For those of you with a lot of free time or looking to get a jump on things, this is the pattern I'll be using so you can knit at your own pace. There is also a shiny new Boston Knitter Fanclub group on Ravelry with a discussion group for this KAL, so you can catch up, play along, whatever. So get your needles and some fingering weight yarn (at least 400 yards of it) and let's go.

Now, for the actual knitting bits. The gauge specs want you to be hitting nine stitches and eleven rows to the inch in Stockinette stitch. Here's the thing they don't mention: If you're checking your gauge for a project that's going to be knit in the round (i.e., no purling), you should really check your gauge in the round, too. I know, I know, a gauge check is a massive pain in the ass as it is, and now I want you to cast on enough stitches to join in the round and just knit forever? Ugh, no wonder I have no friends, right? Wrong. I have no friends because I'm a massive bitch. But more importantly, you can check your ITR (in the round) gauge over, say, twenty stitches without purling as long as you have your trusty double points handy. Really. And while yes, you might want to work your sock with a circular needle (or even two), there's much less sliding stitches around if you just use two double-pointed needles.

Here's the back of my swatch
Basically what you'll be doing is working an i-cord, but without pulling your stitches tightly. I like to run my working yarn over the tops (outside edge) of the fingers on my left hand to give me a long enough float that nothing gets puckered in where it shouldn't. So go grab your DPN collection just in case you don't hit your gauge on the first try and cast on those twenty stitches. I'm not a slave driver, it's just that your edge stitches will be distorted, only leaving us eighteen good stitches. And of course when you swatch you should always swatch in more than one spot, so eighteen stitches gives us a little more to play with. 

Here's that funny ridge marker
The recommended needle size is a US2, so start with that and see what you need. You might get lucky, you might not. Let's say a US2 leaves you with ten or eleven stitches to the inch--purl a row (with a float, so your yarn doesn't change directions and mess you up) and try with your US3 needles instead. That purl row gives you a ridge marker from where you switched needle size, see? I've learned quite a few tricks in my day. The same works the other way, too. If the US2 gets you seven or eight stitches to the inch, then try a US1. Feel free to wash and block your swatch, but I typically say fuck that noise when it comes to blocking a swatch. I know I should, but that cuts into both my time and my yarn, so no. Also I don't get too riled up about row gauge when it comes to socks, but if that's your thing good luck. The rest of us are moving on to the cast on for our cuffs.

As written, the pattern gives next to no instruction for your cast on, aside from "loosely." The exact wording is, "Beg at top of sock, loosely cast on 64 sts onto one needle. Divide sts on three needles: 16 sts on needle 1, 32 sts on needle 2 (instep), 16 sts on needle 3. Join, being careful not to twist." Absolutely ace, I tell ya. The first time I made these socks, I did my regular long tail cast on. I cannot "cast on loosely." It's not in my blood. So the tops of my cuffs were tight, and that's no fun. Plus the long tail cast on makes a row of knit stitches as you work it, so as I looked at my socks (and I know, only a knitter would notice) there was a little jog from the cast on edge to the ribbing, which we'll discuss in a minute. What I recommend instead is the alternating long tail cast on. You can watch a lovely video on it here. Before you give it a try, though, let me also recommend you use a needle at least one size larger than what you'll use for knitting. Trust me on this. And then also decide what kind of ribbing you want on the top of your sock. 

The pattern calls for an inch and a half of 2x2 ribbing, but hey, these are your socks and I'm not the boss of you. So you can do a 1x1 or a 3x1 or whatever tickles your fancy. I'm feeling spicy to day, so I think I'm going to go with a 2x2 with twisted knit stitches. But again, this is a simple sock so take it as slow as you'd like. Just cast on your 64 stitches (if you are using double points, I would split them like the pattern suggests; if you're using a circular needle or two, go ahead and just have 32 stitches on each side) and start your ribbing. Once you've got your inch and a half out of the way, go ahead and switch to Stockinette--don't forget, you're working ITR so it's just knitting--for as long as you want the leg of your sock to be. The pattern says six inches from the cast on edge, but the pattern is also working from the top down so you're a little more restricted as far as your yarn goes. There are plenty of horror stories of people who overshot on their leg and ran out of yarn on the foot. Don't be one of those people, have an escape strategy. Contrast toes are totally fine. No one will see them in your shoes, anyway. Or just keep your leg short if you have big (long/wide/both) feet.

Okay kiddos. The ball's in your court. Cast on, knit your ribbing, and work your leg. Remember, you need to make a second sock, so take notes! If you don't have one already, a notebook is a must-have for any knitter (probably crocheters, too, but I wouldn't know). Count your rows for your cuff, your leg, and your foot so you end up with two socks the same size. And on that note, I'm off to start my sock. Don't forget to check in at the new Ravelry group and the discussion!

1 comment:

  1. This is a nice little tutorial! You should consider teaching a mini class at Fiber Camp! Check it out at CommonCod.com.